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Question 154

Good afternoon father...i have a question why do we have 40 days inside with are new born baby...why do we do this what for??? Thank you in advance          

 

Answer to Question 154

 

When you say inside do you mean you are not allowed to leave the house for forty days? You are not allowed to enter a church until the fortieth day, but I didn't realize that a woman couldn't leave her home even for shopping? These were old Jewish customs that said women were unclean, but in Christian times only the church tradition has been retained. If you want the history of why a woman is not allowed in church, I answered it on a post on Saturday and can easily copy and paste the answer, but I feel your questions does not only refer to the church rules.

 

Same member

Please do...my husband is Greek I'm from Cyprus/England at Greece the mum and baby are not supposed to leave the house for 40 days...until they take the baby to church on the 40th day after birth...

 

Answer

The Old Testament book Leviticus speaks of women's uncleanness after giving birth and the period for their cleansing. If a woman gives birth to a male child she is considered extremely unclean for seven days. During this period she will be isolated and no one must touch her otherwise they also will be unclean. On the eighth day the son will be circumcised and after this she will still be considered unclean until the fortieth day, but not as extreme as the first seven days because now she may be touched by others. During the forty days she cannot enter the temple or touch anything holy. Now if she gives birth to a female child the days of her uncleanness are double. The first period of extreme uncleanness will be fourteen days with another sixty six days of lesser uncleanness making a total of eighty days. After the forty days for a boy and eighty days for a girl, the mother is to make an offering at the temple of a whole lamb and a young pigeon or turtledove, but if the mother is poor she can bring as her offering only two young pigeons or two turtledoves. This is the kind of offering made by the Mother of God after her forty days of purification. We can say that the period of uncleanness is a physiological period of necessity so that the mother can recover completely from childbearing, but why the difference in the sexes, why only forty day for a boy and eighty days for a girl, is God being prejudice towards the female sex? Firstly the period of purification has nothing to do with the woman's recovery because medically there is no difference between giving birth to a boy or girl so the answer must have a religious character. In fact the answer again goes right back to Adam and Eve. A woman who has given birth is unclean because by giving birth she is passing on the consequences of the original sin to the next generation. The consequences of the original sin are disease and death, in other words, the mother is a carrier of disease and a transmitter of death. In other words God did not create disease and death, he create man as an immortal being. Death came into the world after Adam and Eve disobeyed Godís commandment and fell from grace. Death is evil and is the consequence of being separated from God and which Adam and Eve brought upon themselves through their own free will. The difference in the forty days for a boy and eighty for a girl is because original sin came into the world through the female sex. Adam was not really deceived, the woman was deceived and transgressed and then made Adam to transgress with her. As such she has a double transgression on her shoulders, her own and Adam's. The Christian church developed and grew from the Jewish faith and inherited many of its laws and traditions. This is true of the birth laws, but without the discrimination of the sexes or the necessary sacrifices for purification. From the first day of birth the Priest is called to the family home or the maternity clinic as is more common today, to pray for the newborn child and the speedy recovery of the mother. The prayers for the mother have a penitent character asking for the forgiveness of her sins and one of the prayers also mentions to forgive all the household where the child has been born and them that have touched her. On the eighth day the child is taken for the first time to the Church usually by the father or another member of the family, but not by the mother who is not yet allowed to enter the church. At this occasion the child is sealed with the sign of the Cross and officially receives it's name, imitating thus, our Lord Jesus Christ, who on the eighth day after His birth, was taken to the Temple and duly circumcised according to the Jewish law which He Himself had given through our forefathers and the Prophets and had been observed from the time of Abraham. On the fortieth day the child is again brought to the Temple this time by the mother, who having fulfilled the forty days of purification according to the Law of Moses, is again accounted worthy to enter the Holy Temple. The child at this time is presented to be churched, that is, to begin attending Church. Prayers are said for both mother and child and again the prayers for the mother have a penitent character, or rather refer to her uncleanness e.g.: "In the fulfilment of the forty days, wash clean the impurity of her body and the stain of her soul that being accounted worthy to enter thy holy Temple she may glorify with us thy most holy name..." Although the Christian Church has retained the Old Testament laws, today we do not consider a woman having given birth as unclean, but we continual to observe the law because Christ and the Mother of God observed them. If the Mother of God was without sin, then she was at no time unclean and if she herself observed the purification rites then all women should follow her example.  But having the woman locked up in her home for forty days is taking the law a bit too far for our day an age. What if the mother is single and has no help, isnít she supposed to go the supermarket and buy nappies for her baby? Also it is a bit hypocritical because in older times women gave birth at home so they didnít have to move, but todayís women give birth in hospitals or private clinics, they have to somehow get home.  You also mentioned that nobody is allowed to visit until the baby is churched, so does no one visit the mother in hospital, not even the husband, other children, parents and other family members? Of course they do, so this custom doesnít have a leg to stand on. I have also heard that no one must kiss the baby until it is churched. But I think there is more superstition here than anything to do with the faith.